There’s so much to eat at Avarekai Mela – III

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My plans to visit the annual Avarekai Mela at VV Puram this year almost fell flat because I was unsuccessful in getting a day off. So far, I have attended the fest only on week days to avoid getting stuck in the midst of burgeoning holiday crowds during the weekend. So I was left with only one option, either go on a weekend or give the food soiree a miss this year. If I finally made up my mind to go it would have to be on the 14th or 15th of January, the last two days of the fest. These two days coincided with Sankranthi and Pongal, both of them being important festivals. And this further deterred me because transport would be a big problem as most drivers of public transport vehicles would be on a holiday.

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I eventually decided to go after my colleagues pushed me to go because in their opinion most people would prefer staying indoors to celebrate the festival than eat outside. So I needn’t have to worry about huge crowds.

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Luck was on my side that Saturday morning because I managed to get a bus pretty fast and then an auto to complete the journey to the venue, Sajjan Rao Circle in VV Puram. The sun-soaked morning further lifted my mood. When I reached the venue, I realised my colleagues were right because there were hardly any people at the stalls. Also, after facing huge crowds at last year’s fest, the organisers decided to put up a large shamiana on the side of Vasavi Condiments to serve most of the foods. A separate stall was put up for serving sweets.

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The warm surroundings, medley of aromas, and festive atmosphere made me feel hungry. But first I had to finish taking pictures. The vendors at the stalls were in a happy mood and most of them were waiting for the foodies to come in. Taking pictures turned out to be much easier save for the harsh 12 o’clock light.

After I was done with the pictures, I made a beeline for the stalls. I was in a mood for dosas and zeroed in on the Kali Dosa and Hithkabele Saru. I had fallen in love with Kali Dosas during my first visit to the fest and decided to relive that beautiful food experience. As I waited for my dosa, I clicked some more pictures. When the dosas came, I again took a couple of pictures before going chomp chomp chomp. The dosas (there were two on the plate) lived up to their reputation; they tasted divine.

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Now the question was what next? I had room for some more grub. I thought of going for the Ragi Mudde (ragi balls), the wonder food of Karnataka, accompanied by the Avarebelle Saru. Unlike, the Kali dosa and other dosas, the Ragi Mudde do not rank high on the taste quotient but then they are extremely nutritious and filling. They are a favourite with the poorer section of people in Karnataka because they are very economic too. It took me some time to finish off the two Ragi Muddes on my plate because as I mentioned they are partaken only for their rich nutritional values and not for their taste. As I munched and munched I noticed that visitors were gradually increasing. I was happy that I started early and reached at an apt time.

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I left the venue happy promising myself to come back next year too.

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Late Post – A Friday well spent – 2

After a fruitful three hours and a half at Lal Bagh I headed for Sajjan Rao Circle (the venue of the Avarekai Mela). I got a rickshaw quite fast and was there in about 10 minutes.

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Colourful posters and vendors selling colourful ware were all around the venue. There was a lot of noise and honking in the air because of which the cry of the vendors was barely audible. At a distance I could hear the shrill call of a barbet. I inched forward like a snail because I was distracted by all the colour around. The unmistakable aromas of various kinds of dosas getting cooked on tavas started getting stronger as I neared the food stalls. Clearly, the dosas like always were the most popular items.

A noticeable change in the Mela this year was the crowd. The queues were longer than at the previous editions and I could see many visitors getting impatient. Because of the huge demand some of the cooks were getting worked up especially those laying out the dosas. And though there were more stalls than at the earlier editions, there weren’t that many dustbins. The ones which were there were overflowing with used paper plates.

 

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And maybe, the organisers should consider going in for more space to ease crowd movement. Toy and cloth sellers were vying for space with the visitors. There was considerable vehicle movement too.

For obvious reasons, I wasn’t in a mood to click many photos. The steady stream of foodies walking in made me want to rush in for some grub. You can never say, in minutes the queues could double in length. And I needed time to think what to eat first. As I was thinking, I eyed a fresh-from-the-tava stack of Avarekai dosas.

Needless to say, they looked and smelt yum. What say you? And the small cups of Avarekai sambar kept near the dosas made it that much easier for me to decide what I wanted to eat first.

After buying the token, I had to stand in the queue. A couple of people who tried to break the queue were snapped at by ones standing behind. Some choicest expletives were being hurled across both ends.
The Avarekai dosa- Avarekai sambar combo was simply divine. Yay, I had made a good choice!
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I have always loved Akkirotis and thought I would go in for the Avarekai Akkiroti next. So I bought a token and joined the same queue which by now had grown three-fold. The wait was much longer than the wait for the Avarekai dosa. One of those standing before me had come with a large group of friends and ordered 20 dosas in one go making waiting a one-of-a-kind ordeal for poor me and the others standing behind him. Phew!
By now my legs were weary and I had developed acute queue-phobia. The crisp and delectable Avarekai Akkiroti made up for some of the disappointment. I decided not to eat anything more and let the taste of the delicacy linger in my mouth.
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By now the crowds had gotten larger and the food stalls as well as the vendors selling all kinds of other stuff were doing brisk business. I decided it was better to head home.
I flagged down an auto to take me to the Corporation bus stop. As luck would have it, the auto developed engine trouble and stopped right in front of the Corporation end gate of Cubbon Park. I had to get off. Instead of walking to the bus stop I quickly changed my mind and decided to walk through the park and take the Metro from MG Road. I was sure I had made the right decision :). The auto problem seemed to be a blessing in disguise. So what if my legs were weary.

There’s so much to eat at Avarekai Mela – II

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Like last year I made it to the Avarekai Mela to pig out on some of the out-of-the-world treats that are offered at this food fest. The fair seems to have become more popular this year because the crowds were definitely bigger. The organizers on their part seemed to have anticipated the rush and had employed more cooks and there were more stalls. The air was filled with aromas of the different foods being cooked and crowd banter. Ready-to-eat Avarekai delicacies like Avarekai mixture, Pedas and Mysore Pak were being sold inside the premises of Vasavi Condiments, the organizers of the Avarekai Mela.

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On the outside there were a lot of other vendors selling Avarekai (flat beans), Kadalekai (groundnuts), water melons, vegetables, toys, water and more. Some of the vendors I spotted last year were missing instead there were new faces like this lady who was selling puffed wheat and rice and a man with a doll selling a kind of candy.

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This year, the Mela seems to have attracted a lot of media attention too and some of the cooks were very photo-friendly like this cherubic cook who was laying out one Obuttu (Holige) after another with a large smile on his face.

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Jalebis and Kodubale seemed to be the most popular with long queues in front of the stalls selling them.

After a round of photography I decided to savour some of the delicacies. The taste of the Khalli Dosa that I had eaten at last year’s mela still lingered in my mouth and I went for it this time too. As expected, the Dosa and the accompaniment were a delight. I wasn’t sure what to have next thanks to the endless list of items on the menu. After much thought, I ordered an Akki Roti. The Akki Roti was quite thin and crisp with Avarekai embedded here and there and was easy to finish off. I ended my culinary journey with a tub of yummy Upittu.

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A very noticeable addition to the mela this year was a Pani Puri seller. After three plates of grub I wasn’t in a mood for Pani Puris. Maybe I’ll have a go at them next year but only after a plate of lip-smacking Khalli Dosa, my all-time favourite!

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The fair is on till the 14th of January.

Venue:

Sri Vasavi Condiments

Opposite VB Bakery

Sajjan Rao Circle

V V Puram

Bangalore 560004

There’s so much to eat at Avarekai Mela – I

Just a month back I had been to the Kadalekai Parishe (groundnut fair). Little did I know that the city also celebrates a fair dedicated to Kadalekai’s lesser known cousin Avarekai (flat beans). I read about the Avarekai Mela in the newspapers and wanted to check it out. Image The Avarekai Mela is not as big an affair as the Kadalekai Parishe but it definitely showcases more delectable food. Over here you can savour  out-of-the-world Karnataka cuisine. There is so much food on offer that you will be spoilt for choice. Most of the preparations have Avarekai as one of the ingredients. Image Image Image Image I reached Sri Vasavi Condiments at Sajjan Rao Circle, the venue of the fair, at around 3pm. There was a moderate crowd then. After going through the large menu card put up by the organisers, it took me some time to decide what to eat. I finally decided on the Khalli Dosa. A couple of people had also ordered this dosa. Image I watched with interest as the cook spread out the batter with artistic ease. In no time, the dosas were ready. There were two on a platter with Avarekai sambar as the accompaniment. The soft and fluffy dosas just melted in my mouth. I was happy with my choice.

All the ready-to-eat foods were available indoors; the cooking was being done outdoors at the many stalls. The fair also had vendors and farmers selling Avarekai, Kadalekai and more. Image Image Image After hanging around the place for some time, I decided to have a go at something else. I have heard so much about Ragi Mudde but never got to taste it. Ragi Mudde, the wonder food of Karnataka is nutritious, wholesome, simple to make and very economic and so finds a special place in the dinner plates of many Kannadigas. True to their reputation, the Ragi Muddes on my plate were really very filling! As the afternoon wore on, there were more people thronging the place. Many seemed to be from the vicinity. I wondered how the atmosphere would be like late in the evening what with such mouth-watering grub around. The Avarekai Mela is a great event to soak into. A foodie’s paradise! I would definitely be back next year to binge again on these one-of-a-kind treats! The fair is on till 7 January.